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Talk by Dr. Nicholas Henriksen, "Investigating the outcomes of long-term language contact: Afrikaans-Spanish bilingualism in Patagonia, Argentina"

Event Type
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
Feb 17, 2022   4:00 pm  
Salvatore Callesano
Originating Calendar
Spanish and Portuguese Calendar

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Talk title: Investigating the outcomes of long-term language contact: Afrikaans-Spanish bilingualism in Patagonia, Argentina

Presenter: Dr. Nicholas Henriksen, University of Michigan,

Dr. Nicholas Henricksen is an Associate Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on issues in the phonetics and phonology of different varieties of Spanish from a theoretical perspective, employing laboratory methods to validate my claims. His earliest publications focused on question intonation in Peninsular Spanish, working primarily within the autosegmental-metrical framework of intonational structure. More recently, he has begun to explore sociophonetic variation in Manchego Spanish (spoken in south-central Spain) and in Andalusian Spanish (spoken in southern Spain). He is interested in understanding the linguistic factors that differentiate the Western and Eastern sub-varieties of Andalusian Spanish.

Talk abstract:

This presentation addresses two related questions: (i) What determines the nature of cross-language effects under long-term language contact?; and (ii) Are related phonetic processes affected similarly by cross-language interference?

I present data gathered from a bilingual community in Patagonia (Argentina), where Spanish and Afrikaans have been in contact since the start of the twentieth century. Although the members of this community are L1-Afrikaans speakers, they have been L2-Spanish dominant for most of their lives (40-50 years) and represent the last Afrikaans-Spanish bilingual speakers in Patagonia. Through three fieldwork trips, my research team and I conducted sociolinguistic interviews with Afrikaans-Spanish bilinguals (in Afrikaans and Spanish), and with monolingual Spanish and Afrikaans comparison speakers in Patagonia and South Africa, respectively.

This presentation synthesizes findings from three projects related to the Patagonian bilinguals: (i) vowel timing and durational control; (ii) intervocalic phonemic-stop lenition; and (iii) the production of filled pauses (e.g., eh, em). For each project, we consider whether the data offer evidence of unidirectional L1-to-L2 influence, unidirectional L2-to-L1 influence, or whether the bilinguals exhibit bidirectional influences when speaking their two languages. Altogether, this research shows that understanding L1-L2 interference requires a holistic approach, including information about language-usage patterns in the community, as well as the phonetic/phonological structure of the sound inventories of the two languages involved.

More information about the community can be accessed here:

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